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Spokane County Commissioner District No. 2

The board of county commissioners is the legislative authority for the county in the 33 noncharter counties and serve as the chief administrators for most county operations.

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  • Candidate picture

    Michael Cathcart
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Amber Waldref
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

What is your record of public service?

How do you view balancing development with protecting our natural resources?

How should your county assist the homeless and economically disadvantaged?

What do you think are the most important environmental issues your county will face due to the changing climate?

How would you address the issues surrounding your county’s infrastructure?

How do you assess your county’s ability to address any issues surrounding racial inequities?

What should your county be doing to prepare for any crisis such as COVID-19?

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Party Preference Democratic
Phone 509-868-9219
Experience (Max 500 characters) For 20 years, Amber has worked collaboratively and successfully to solve local challenges. Twice elected Spokane City Council. Chair of boards: Spokane Regional Transportation Council, Spokane Transit Authority, Spokane Regional Health District. Professional experience: Director, The ZoNE at Northeast Community Center; Development Director, The Lands Council. Community Service: Spokane Housing Authority Board; Spokane Human Rights Task Force; WSU Spokane Advisory Board; WA 2020 Census Committee
Campaign Mailing Address PO BOX 4812
Spokane, WA 99220
Campaign Phone 509-868-9219
Campaign Email amber.spokane@gmail.com
Town where you live Spokane
Campaign Twitter Handle @twitter.com/amberwaldref
Twice-elected to Spokane City Council, I was a leader in cleaning up the Spokane River and improving streets and parks through careful budgeting & low rates. I supported small business growth and decreased crime through targeted investment in the East Sprague District, the Hamilton Street Corridor, and Downtown Spokane. As chair of regional boards, including the Spokane Regional Transportation Council, the Board of Health, and the Spokane Transit, I worked closely with other city and county leaders to create opportunities for all residents. In 2016, I led the ballot campaign to increase Spokane Transit service and have been instrumental in developing the new all-electric rapid transit City Line, opening in 2023. I was asked to serve on the Governor’s 2020 Census Committee and activated Spokane’s successful Census Count. I currently volunteer on the Spokane Housing Authority Board, the Washington State University Spokane Advisory Council, and the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force.
As Spokane County grows and more people want to enjoy our natural beauty and quality of life, we will need to do better balancing development with protecting our natural resources. Our Spokane aquifer and adjacent aquifers are precious resources that provide clean water and must be protected for our residents and businesses to be competitive. Our Spokane River interchanges with our aquifer, impacting the health of fish and other species. We must continue to make smart decisions about using water so we can grow without negatively impacting our River. Also, it is important to preserve some open lands and trees. As climate change impacts us locally, we will need more trees to reduce heat islands and protect our health. We should work with the State and our local cities to promote development practices that retain or replant trees and reduce reliance on water. Spokane is known for its access to nature. We should develop in a pattern that retains our beauty and protects our resources.
The County has not traditionally invested in the homeless system. I want to change this. The County should partner with cities on a regional, real-time data and shelter system that moves unhoused people to permanent housing as soon as possible. This will require coordination with non-profits and a commitment to partnerships. I have developed strong partnerships at the Northeast Community Center. Over the past 5 years, we have brought together over 100 organizations, hundreds of residents and schools to improve health, education and economic outcomes for some of Spokane’s most marginalized children, youth and families. I am proud we have raised and invested over $7.6 million in public/private dollars to remove barriers to economic stability. We can target investments across our county in partnership with business and private funders to support a strong regional system to keep people housed, as well as pathways to education and employment for all community members, especially our youth.
Climate change is impacting many aspects of our daily lives, our health, and our environment here in Spokane County. From increased flooding to extreme heat to forest fires, it is imperative that our County develop systems that build our resilience and help protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of smoke, heat, flooding and loss of life. Last year, 20 people died in Spokane County because of the extreme heat – most in their homes due to lack of ventilation, cooling. We need to work regionally to invest in warming and cooling shelters as a part of our annual emergency management preparedness, distribute cooling devices, as well as develop homes and businesses in areas that are not prone to fire or flooding. Recognizing the impacts of climate change, we must prepare and plan differently. Our fire departments and fire districts must work together, along with our utility companies, to ensure we can keep people healthy and safe and have the resources to respond appropriately.
As our County has become more urbanized and populated over the past 30 years, it has been difficult to keep up the maintenance and repair of our infrastructure. We need to work regionally to increase all types of housing and accommodate our growing population. But County leaders have been making expensive short-term approvals of development without the funds to pay for roads, schools, and utility expansions. The bills are coming due, with traffic problems, crumbling roads, crowded schools, and public safety issues. My experience with budgeting, planning and making careful, targeted investment decisions can help our County make better growth decisions that that maximize our current infrastructure. We must do joint planning of growth with the cities, school districts and fire districts, as well as have a capital budget that anticipates future costs and identifies a mixture of funding options to pay for infrastructure improvements.
It is a challenge to address issues surrounding racial inequities if people are unaware, so the first step is education and community conversations. As the Director of The ZoNE at Northeast Community Center. I frequently review County-wide data and then break it down by region, neighborhood and race/ethnicity, gender to identify inequities and then work with community members to better understand these. In Spokane County, kids of color are less likely to graduate college and career ready. Families of color are less likely to be homeowners and to struggle with housing insecurity. Some communities of color like our Marshallese populations were more impacted by COVID 19 than other communities. In our criminal justice system, there are disproportionate arrests of Black and Native Americans. If we have conversations around this data and create mutual understanding, then we work with impacted communities to remove policy and system barriers to create greater equity and access to opportunity.
The County government is the lead agency in public health planning and emergency response. COVID-19 was a wake-up call for our local agencies to have to work together. From my perspective as a resident and non-profit leader, there was a lack of knowledge of how a lock-down might impact different communities differently. Access to food was initially an afterthought until local organizations called for a regional task force to ensure low income and homebound families could get access and started popping up food banks and doing home delivery. I want to use our experiences with the pandemic to drive better preparation for crises, whether it be a public health emergency or a wind storm that knocks out power. We should be building partnerships with community organizations who serve our most vulnerable residents to ensure we have plans in place to keep people healthy and safe when a crisis occurs. This means frequent communication, relationship-building and investment in these partnerships.